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Dur Untash Napirisha

Large panoramic view of ancient elamite ziggurat Tchogha Zanbil, made with the combination of 4 images taken in April 2008, province of Khuzestan, Iran.


This ziggurat has been builded by elamite king Untash-Napirisha, and was originaly called “Dur Untash Napirisha” ( the fortress of Untash-Napirisha), in 1250 BCE. It was a temple dedicated to the cult of Inshushinak, god of the Susiana province, and of other gods of the elamite pantheon such as Napirisha, Ishme-karab, and Kiririsha.


Being world's best preserved ziggurat, it survived earthquakes and erosion despite being buided with sun dryed mud bricks and a mud/dryed grass mortar named Adobe, still used in Iran for traditional houses building. its architecture is exceptional, consisting in a set of 5 rectangular floors, all around the others, the central one being the highest. the floors were in fact all juxtaposed directly on the soil, instead of being on the other like in all other known ziggurats worldwide. A complex network of drainage the covering of some exposed parts by a waterproof mortar explain why the monument is so well preserved from the rain and didn't collaps within milleniums. remnants of royal tombs, of a city, circular walls, and even a stunning water purification pool system can be seen around. Elamit cuneiform inscriptions are seen on the bricks realizing texts of hundreds meters long that gave archeologist priceless clues for a better understanding of this civilization.


For the 2 last centuries, scholars considered ziggurats as being the hallmark of Mesopotamia, the others were then supposed to be copies under the influence of mesopotamian art. The story of the babel Tower having probably influenced the scholars. Recent advances in archaeologia proved this idea wrong, as bigger and older ziggurats were found in Pakistan (Mundigak) and in Iran (Konar Sandal). Another ziggurat was attested at Susa, mentioned by the assyrian stela of Assurbanipal found at Niniveh. All those evidences clearly evoke a more eastern origin of the ziggurat, born probably in the east of Iran or in Pakistan.


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Taken on October 30, 2008